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~ Clean Power from Stirling Engines STM Power

 STM Power, Clean Power from Stirling Engines

STM Power Inc., produces Stirling cycle generators that produce electricity from almost any form of heat or fuel: waste gases from landfills or sewage treatment plants, biomass, solar energy and paint fumes.  STM Power was originally organized as a research and development company that did experiments and demonstrations showcasing a variety of energy-related technologies, including engines based on the Stirling Cycle, a technology invented in 1816.

The Stirling is an external combustion engine, somewhat like a steam engine, that burns fuel to heat a liquid or gas in a sealed system -- hydrogen in the case of STM's Power Units. That heated hydrogen is then used to drive pistons that are in turn connected to an electrical generator.

Stm_cutawaywithlabels The STM engine is a four-cylinder, double-acting Stirling engine with a swash plate drive. At the heart of the engine are four independent gas enclosures each comprised of the volume under a piston (compression volume), the volume above the adjacent piston (expansion volume), a series of three heat exchangers connecting these two volumes, a cooler adjacent to the compression volume, a heater adjacent to the expansion volume and a regenerator between the heater and the cooler.

The four pistons are arranged symmetrically around a swash plate that forces the reciprocating motion of any two neighboring pistons to be 90º out of phase. The gas enclosures are charged with high-pressure hydrogen that serves as a working fluid. The reciprocating motion of the pistons causes the volume of hydrogen to increase and decrease alternately. The expansion spaces are maintained at a high temperature by continuous combustion of fuel or some other source of heat (waste heat) outside the tubes of the heaters.

The compression spaces are maintained at a low temperature by liquid cooling of the coolers. Therefore, the temperature and the pressure of the hydrogen during expansion is higher than during compression. The hydrogen absorbs heat from the combustion process, converts a portion of it to mechanical power, which it delivers to the pistons, and rejects the balance to the liquid coolant.

The mechanical power delivered by the hydrogen to the pistons is aggregated and converted to rotating shaft power by means of the swash plate drive. The regenerator, which is the third heat exchanger, does not exchange heat with the outside. It alternately absorbs heat from and releases heat back to the hydrogen in order to improve the engine efficiency. The engine’s output shaft is connected to a generator to make three-phase electrical power.

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